Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Corrie ten Boom

As a follower of Christ and a protector of Jews during World War II, Dutchwoman Corrie ten Boom is well worth learning about. And Kaylena Radcliff's new biography of Corrie does an excellent job of telling Corrie's story in a way that's appropriate and inspiring for children.

The biography begins once Corrie is an adult, taking care of missionary children in her Father's rambling home in Harlem, Holland. Soon, Hitler invades Holland. The ten Boom family, devoted Christians, are horrified at how the Nazi's treat Jews, and soon are doing all they can to help - even creating a secret room for Jews to hide in their home. Corrie and her family drill - teaching their Jewish friends to get into the secret room in under a minute, and making sure the house shows no signs of extra visitors, too. Corrie struggles as her nephew, who works for the Underground, trains her to lie to the Nazi's. He keeps waking her up at night, asking where the Jews are hidden, and Corrie must learn to say, "Jews? What Jews?"

But despite their careful efforts, which include using code to communicate, one man suspects the ten Boom's are hiding Jews. He comes to their house and tells a story about needing money to bribe a Nazi soldier to get his Jewish wife returned to him. Very ill, Corrie tells him to come back later and she will help. But the man is really a spy, and soon Nazis are breaking down the ten Boom door. They don't find the Jews, well hidden in the secret room, but they take Corrie, her father, and her sister, Betsie, to prison.

Corrie's father dies almost immediately, but after some time in solitary, Corrie and her sister are reunited on a train headed for another prison. They experience great hardship, being forced to labor and live in quarters that are extremely over-populated, and without sanitary conditions. Corrie complains about the fleas, but Betsie encourages her to find things to thank God for. As it turns out, the horrible fleas keep the Nazis from inspecting their quarters, making it possible for Corrie and Betsie to read the tiny Bible Corrie has smuggled in, bringing hope and faith to many prisoners.

Betsie, who often says how sincerely sorry she feels for the Nazi soldiers who are so lead astray, becomes very ill. But she says God has shown her the future. She says they will be released from the prison camp before the year ends, that they will help many people after the war, and that they will go to a large green house with flower boxes and flowers everywhere. But when Betsie dies, Corrie isn't certain what her future brings. Then one day, a clerical error gets her released from the prison. The war ends. And Corrie finds herself doing exactly the things her sister predicted. She even learns to forgive the Nazi soldiers who treat her and her family so cruelly.

Looking back, Corrie can see God's hand never left her and she dedicates the rest of her life to rehabilitating people after the war, and teaching the world about Jesus. And, as she says, the world listens because of the great suffering she lived through.

The biography also features a map, facts about Holland, a timeline, and a glossary. Throughout, there are illustrations, including actual photographs of Corrie and her family.

What I Like: Everything! My children (ages 8 and 5) both really loved this story (though, admittedly, they were primed by watching the DVD, sold separately). I heard a lot of "Just one more chapter! Please!" And I was thrilled because Corrie ten Boom's story is an excellent example of trusting in God, helping others, and forgiving even those who do horrible things to you.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: Although my 5 yr. old loved this book, I'd say generally it's more for the 8 and up crowd.

Publishing Info: Christian History Institute, 2014; ISBN:   978-1563648731; paperback, 85 pgs., $8.99

Buy Now at Amazon for $8.99 Or buy at for $8.99

Special Info: This is just one book in The Torchlighters series of "heroes of the faith." To see the entire series, click here.

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